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15 Apr

First Fish Reports

My pal Johnny-Boy O’Neil of Toledo hit the Au Sable Holy Waters recently and had pretty sweet luck. The last fish has the largest spots on a brown I have ever seen on the Au Sable. I usually associated such markings with browns coming up from one of the Great Lakes. In any event a nice teaser for all who are awaiting the theoretical trout opener, the last Saturday in April. Drool,one and all. Nice job , John. Thanks for sharing. We are green with envy. Over.
.ONeil 4 ONeil 2

14 Apr

Strange Happenings

Got a call today from an enterprising TIME magazine writer, asking about bailing out of KC-135 tankers. Last month DOD issued a report on a KC-135 in Kyrgyzstan from last year, No survivors. Turned out the aircraft was heavy and got into some severe gyrations and the tail section came off and the plane then plunged. Reporter, one Mark Thompson asked if I knew that parachutes had been taken out of the aircraft quite a while ago. No, I wasn’t aware of it.  DOD had told him noone had ever bailed out of a KC-135, but then he discovered the 46ARS website about the night myself and three crew mates jumped from one and he wanted to talk not so much about that night, but what did I think of the decision to remove parachutes for financial reasons. Told him successful use of a parachute in a tanker is a very rare thing, but it’s nice to have the option and it reminds me of sending various ground vehicles into combat without being armored. Funny.

Meanwhile I am now wondering about the so-called Berkut special police in Ukraine. They were disbanded sometime back and there were rumors that the Russians were giving former Berkut members passports into Russia. I’ve learned (one source only) that the Berkut in Ukraine were “descended from an elite force in Soviet times.” Can’t find anything along those lines yet. The Berkut never was legally published in the USSR (Russia was a member of the Soviet federation  at the time of publication in the U.S.)  

Further, I’ve learned there was a Berkut aircraft: The Airplane: The Sukhoi S-37 Berkut, Golden Eagle, is an experimental concept model that first flew on 25 September 1997. The aircraft was developed by Sukhoi to explore the concept of forward swept wings. The advantages of forward swept wings have been known since World War II and include improved performance in the transonic region as well as reduced overall drag, improved maneuverability and better landing and take-off performance. The problem was the structural characteristics of the wings. Normal structures would flex under loading which would increase the angle of attack of the wing tip, causing eventual wing structural failure. This is called structural divergence. To counteract this characteristic, initial forward swept wing designs utilized extreme wing stiffness, which tended to counteract some of the advantages of the feature. Modern advanced composite materials offer the engineer the possibility to tailor wing structure to eliminate the structural divergence. The Grumman X-29 was developed in 1984 in response to a Department of Defense proposal. The X-29 proved the feasibility of the concept and provided information to be used in future manned and unmanned combat aircraft.

In an ongoing effort to develop new state of the  combat aircraft, the Sukhoi design bureau developed the S-37. The X-29 was a smallish airplane, being based on fuselage components from the F-5. The S-37 is a much larger aircraft, utilizing as many of the components of the Su-22 and Su-27 as possible. While the “S” designation indicates the experimental purpose of the prototype, Sukhoi have recently given the Berkut the designation of Su-47 in an effort to generate some production sales. To date, no sales have resulted and in the current world situation, probably none will. In any case, it is a very interesting airplane and may represent the shape of things to come.

Why am I thinking about berkut stuff? Because  my novel The Berkut is coming back into print.  Will provide the exact date when I know. First published in 1987. 



14 Apr

Monday Morning

First tick yesterday, first mosquito this morning. Aha. Flies all weekend. My gal Zeta in Deer Park can’t wait for MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. Wish a good week for all. I’d affix a cover for the new book, but I can’t figure out how to copy an Adobe document onto this. The usual half-ass computer shit. Meanwhile,  I’m working of MOTB maps, expect typeset pages any day now. And I’ll be visiting environmental educatation classes at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix H.S. next week to talk about COs, law enforcement and the environment. Over.

Zeta Fan

08 Apr

Last Week In Iron County

Bare ground here now in Da Zoo, but oop in  da Yoop? Not so much. 

Difficult to turn around

Difficult to turn around

painter and zack, small one 32 in

The smallest pike is 32 inches.

Painter 5

Gotta cross somewhere, even in winter.

Painter 2

Da plow, boss, da plow!

Painter 3

No choice BUT a head shot.

Painter 4

April and all this, Seriously?


07 Apr

Death and Dogs

Something to think about: Seems to me somewhere in my reading and/or movie-watching, hearing a curse uttered at certain times that so-and-so should, “die like a dog,” presumably this to be a nasty and bad thing. But James Thurber had a different take on a dog’s passing. “No dog is fond of dying, but I have never had a dog that showed a human, jittery fear of death, either. Death, to a dog, is the final unavoidable compulsion, the last ineluctable scent on a fearsome trail, but they like to face it alone, going out in the woods, among the leaves, if there are any leaves when the time comes, enduring without sentimental human distraction the last loneliness, which they are wise enough to know cannot be shared by anyone.”
In this way of thinking, “DIED LIKE A DOG” seems a simple, yet elegant epitaph.

Good publishing news details coming soon. Soon as the contracts are signed will broadcast to one and all.

03 Apr

The Countdown Begins

No blog in a while and I thought I’d better do some catch-up.  It’s April, the spring rain is  falling, the snow is bleeding away, and one month from today we embark for the Yoop for our annual six-month sojourn. Unlike most Michigan geezers who winter in Fla, Az we winter In the Zoo where snowfall is only 110 inches vs 200-300. its a BIG diff.  Meanwhile our friends up in Crystal Falls have gotten 16 inches of fresh snow since yesterday. These late march-April  snows kill deer in droves. Our place is  in some hills about 50 miles north of Crystal, , so the snow is likely to still be heavy there. I expect we will still have snow in the woods; last year we went up May 20 and had some snow piles here and there.  But we will catch the first wisps of spring up there and that will be wonderful as the land comes back to life.

Still waiting to hear from publisher on HARDER GROUND, my second short story collection, and on other matters.  And I finally got first draft of  BROWN BALL done and have shipped that to my agent. This is a glacial business in many ways, part of the beauty and frustrations inherent. Said it before and will repeat it. If you are looking for immediate feedback or satisfaction, this is not th endeavor for you. Writing is about sustaining your own momentum against all the imaginary ghosts and hurdles that lay in the human mind.

What most readers don’t understand is that even with 20-30 books published, acceptance of the next one isn’t guaranteed. There’s no automatic in this biz unless you self-publish and then, in my mind/opinion, you are not publishing at all: You’re just printing unfiltered, unedited  material, and going around the publisher to get that immediate satisfaction this business is not about.   From a reader’s view, the author going through a legit publisher and agent guarantees readers to some extent some stamp of quality or multiple eyes having worked over a story before it gets there. This is not to put down self-published stuff. I once read a self-published memoir by my friend Lew Carlson. VAN GOGH’S RIGHT EAR: DISSONANT CHORDS FOR THE PROGENY: A MEMOIR. This is one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever read and Lew said in his usual candor that he just didn’t want to be bothered with a publisher. Honest in all things, including his trout fishing.

Editing of MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN is now underway.  This is Lute Bapcat’s second story and my editor seems to quite like it.  Had few editorial changes and passed it to copy-editing to take the rest of the way through. We’ll handle editor and copy editor’s queries notes all in the same process, thereby removing one step from the process. Book will publish in the fall. All good and now I await the whole load  in one bolus for electronic review, which of course I am incapable of. So I will print it out and do the old fashioned way and then transcribe changes into the electronic manuscript. I also have to rough out a map for the publisher’s cartographer to render. But, we’re closed to putting this “puppy” to bed.

I have about a third of the next Grady Service story (No 10 in the series)  in the plastic box for completion up north and will begin research for the third Bapcat. No 2 takes place in the summer of 2014, but I am seriously thinking I am going to  jump the third book in the series to the period of 1918-1919 and perhaps change the setting  rather substantially.

And of course I’ll continue on more new short stories up north, if history is a predictor. Got about a dozen done now for a collection or individual placement, not sure which. Also thinking seriously of keeping a cartoon, drawing journal of this year up north, see what that produces. Not a graphic novel format. More like Jim Thurber, cartoons interwoven with text. We shall see.

To be honest, my mind also beginning to seriously shift to brook trout.  Have been down-loading top maps to look at stream beds and various lokes in the hills around our summer  abode.  Brookie fishing (when the snow finally melts and the levels finally drop : call these optimistic thoughts) promises to be excellent. Lonnie and I know a dozen pretty good spots all within thirty minutes of where we will be and now have another dozen marked for exploration. As always I will try to drive close and bush-bust as little as I need to. Hard to fish a lot of brookie water from the water because much of is is discolored by tannin and impossible to see through the reddish brown tint.  So some places I can wade up or downstream and others we’ll have to bank hop our way, looking for openings. Brother in law mike is less than an hour away rather than 3-4 so I hope he can get over to join me in worm dunking. We have always had great fun in doing this.

The camera surely will get much use this trip and I hope to jump in with some of my CO friends while we are north. And before we leave I hope to visit the DNR academy, see how our recruits are faring. They are about halfway through that most demanding school and training. 31 began and they class is now down to 25 or 26. It is HARD CHALLENGE, and that’s not promotional hyperbole.

What sort of things do I do when not writing? Same as  you and other folks. But probably I do a lot more  reading than  most folks. And I spend time every day transcribing  notes into my Commonplace Book, as sources to refer to when we are away from our main library and information files.

All from here for now. Hope all well  for you and yours and that you are prospering at the levels you seek and in  good health, especially good health.

Here, from the most recent NEW YORKER, in an article entitled “Home Fires,” by George Packer.He writes: “Journalists and historians have to distort war: in order to find the plot – causation, sequence, meaning – they make war more intelligible than it really is. In the literature by veterans, there are virtually no politics or polemics, in stark contrast to the tendentious way in which most Americans, especially those farthest removed from the fighting, discussed Iraq. This new writing takes the war, though not its terrible cost, as a given….Instead of coherent explanatory narrative, it presents us with fragments…. Fragments are perhaps the most honest literary form available to writers who fought so recently. Their work lacks context, but it gets closer to the lived experience of war than almost any journalism. It deals in particulars, which is where the heightened alertness of combatants has to remain, and it’s more likely to notice things.”

Indeed. Over.

26 Mar

Baseball in the Blood

Thinking a lot about baseball these days, and especially about Detroit Tiger phenom Mark “The “Bird” Fidrych, who died at 54 in a farm accident. He brought life back to baseball and the tigers in the summer of 1976, and how appropriate it seems now that his flight and steep sharp rise coincided with our nation’s bicentennial and that he was playing and one might argue, reinvigorating our national game. The Bird was the first ever jock to adorn the gaudy front cover of ROLLING STONE, never mind his baseball stats. Always found it sad that he had his year in the sun and mostly pain after that, but near as I can tell, he rarely complained or bellyached, and took life as it came. Pretty good model for all of us. Baseball will be back with us soon and we will celebrate its return. It, like the opening of trout season, is in our blood. And I think of my old friend and colleague Phil Carra lugging his baseball bat through corporate headquarters and few even remarking on it,  because baseball is part of us, whether we know it and acknowledge it, or not. Over. Rest in Peace, Bird. You brought us great pleasure. Baseball, unlike most games, perhaps all games, is the one sport where both teams get their full alotment of tries. Sounds a lot like how we think of America, at least theoretically.  I began life as a true-blue Brooklyn Dodgers fan, but have been a Tiger fan since moving to Michigan in the summer of 1958..Over.

The Bird on Rolling Stone

The Bird on Rolling Stone

25 Mar

Truth In Advertising and Such

Errand morning. Shaksper and I are sitting in Lonnie’s toy car in parking lot while she run’s errands, her final stop into TarJAY. I sat reading from Paul Horgan’s (Pulitzer, etc.) A CERTAIN CLIMATE: ESSAYS IN HISTORY, ARTS AND LETTERS. I am about a third into this excellent piece of work when I read the following: “The second of the two powerful forces of persuasion and education today is the craft of advertising, which all too often goes beyond its only legitimate purpose, and that is to meet, rather than create a need. Advdertising, with bland contempt for common intelligence, sees truth a a merely relative and adjustable value. One television commercial has a sternly reassuring man on camera, dressed like a financier, a character which he represents, who is trying to convince us for his own commercial purposes. hear what he says: “This is not just an ad – it is a fact.”

Horgan continues: “There is a sort of wild innocence, if not bloodless cynicism, in this tacit admission that advertising is not factual, even if it pretends to be. The ethical squalor of this, so widely unrecognized, may tell us much by analogy about why a vast malaise has come over our country….The cheerful acquiescence of the public in the organized dishonesty of most advertising — and its purposeful offspring “public relations,” with all too few honorable exceptions — are symptoms of the ethically unsatisfying nature of much of our technological life.”

Lonnie comes back from TarJay says she asked the sales clerk, “What’s the status of that identity theft stuff from last November?”

Lonnie says she expected that corporate would have armed all sales clerks to answer such inquiries. I suspected diff.

The clerk says after a pregnant pause, “I think that’s pretty much taken care of now.”

So Lon asks, “Did the theft problem ever include checks?”

Even longer delay this time. “Weeeelllll, I’m not  real sure, but I think it was mostly debit and credit cards.”

Lon paid with cash.

Meanwhile, as she was hoofing back to the car I read the ditty above and looked to see that we were surrounded by fright-green ServPro vehicles (like the color of this type). Advertising all over them proclaimed, “Fire & Water –Cleanup & Restoration, then the piece de resistance statement, “Like it never even happened.”

I wanted to ask if a mother and three kids drowned in a flood and these folks cleaned up the disaster site, could their cleaning guarantee their implied promise, including not just the physical surrounds but the psychological damage as well? Or if it seems like it never even happened, I wouldn’t even have to pay for the service, right?

In another essay, called “Preface to An Unwritten Book,” Horgan writes: “To be commercially successful, most forms of expression now gratify not the highest, or even the average, but the lowest standard of emotional, intellectually and aesthetic adventure. The central sin of the aggressive society is competitiveness, with its indignities and vulgarities meanly motivated by material ends. On a private scale, this leads to  the cheapening of ethical standards, not only of the present but of the future, through its inescapable influence on children, who have appetite but no critical judgment.”

Horgan adds, “We have in recent years seen millions of little round lapel buttons with a smile painted on them in three childish strokes. Why must we be incessantly reminded to smile? Are we inherently that savage that this precaution is nervously needed? Perhaps man’s discontent is all too clear to him today, and perhaps he must do his utmost to deny it, in order to live with it.”

An interesting thoughtful collection of essays, which force you to think.

Back to Woyk. Over.

21 Mar

The Day After

On the very small  news front, the short story collection has gone to the publisher for ed board meeting. It they’re interested it will be published a year or so from now. 30 all new, never-see-before short stories, all with female protagonists. Collection is called Harder Ground, Stories from the Distaff Angle.



15 Mar

Happy Birthday, Coach

Ed Jarvie was  a legendary UP coach for the Rudyard Bulldogs. I played football, basketball and baseball for him and was in his world history class. He was also principal of the HS in my senior year. He was a major force in shaping me and lots more kids. Happy 86th coach and wife Yvonne, who was always just off-stage providing untold strength for a driven man.

Coach Ed Jarvie, 86 years young.

Coach Ed Jarvie, 86 years young and Yvonne, “The Missus,” his unaging bride of many years.

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